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Pre-emptive War: e.g. Should we nuke Tehran?

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1.) It will create more hate in the Islamic world against the US.

2.) It will likely cost the US many of its current valuable allies.

3.) It will decrease the current international bias in favor of nuclear abstinance.

4.) It might provoke nuclear retaliation.

5.) It is insane?

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We don't owe anything to anyone except ourselves...

1) It is against our self-interest

x5

Brandon, I think the burden of proof may be on you.

We have to do it in self defence. 9/11 illustrates that.

Note that we had already won WWII in five years, yet five years after 9/11 where are we? The Fatherland of Terrorism is about to get nukes, and North Korea recently tested them.

And why sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in a ground war like in Iraq and Germany? (Of course we beat Germany before we even had the nuke - or I'm sure we would have used it.)

Search YouTube for violent Islam and spend an hour perusing. You'll find plenty of evidence.

Brandon

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We have to do it in self defence. 9/11 illustrates that.

We haven't had a domestic terrorist attack since 9/11, so I'm feeling pretty safe in that department.

Note that we had already won WWII in five years, yet five years after 9/11 where are we? The Fatherland of Terrorism is about to get nukes, and North Korea recently tested them.

And why sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in a ground war like in Iraq and Germany? (Of course we beat Germany before we even had the nuke - or I'm sure we would have used it.)

Good point - so why don't we completely obliterate their military infrastructure with high-altitude bombers?

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1.) It will create more hate in the Islamic world against the US.

2.) It will likely cost the US many of its current valuable allies.

3.) It will decrease the current international bias in favor of nuclear abstinance.

4.) It might provoke nuclear retaliation.

5.) It is insane?

You didn't list 5 reasons, or even 1. Point 1 is not a reason because there is no relationship between nuking Tehran and the conclusion -- all actions or inactions will create more hate in the Islamic world against the US. Point 2 is factually false: it would probably only cost us a few weak allies, and only for a short period. Point 3 is flamingly false, since a more likely reaction is an increase in anti-nuclear sentiment. Point 4 is humorously false: are you seriously suggesting that Britain or Russia will drop the bomb on us because we flattened Tehran? Point 5 is orthographically and logically false: the word you were looking for is "sane", and that's a reason to do it, not a reason to not do it.

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1. We do not need to use Nukes to achieve the military aims necessary to make Iran less of a none-threat.

2. Nukes carry an additional stigma with their use which would have unpredictable and possibly negative consequences for US leadership. Our ability to get our allies to follow us in venues such as those we have in NATO may be unecessarily decreased.

3. Nuking Tehran would not end Islamic Fundementalism as a movement. (For that matter neither would simply destroying Tehran. Regime change in Tehran is necessary, but it is not the be-all-end-all of the problem.)

4. We don't want to set the precedent that nuclear weapons are now an acceptable weapon to solve international disputes if we can afford not to. This is less about setting an examples to states like North Korea and more for states like Russia and China, who may feel that they now have the legitimacy to use nuclear weapons to solve their own internal problems (Like Chechneya, Taiwan, Tibet, etc.)

5. The long term consequences of the use of nucelar weapons (fallout, radiation, leukemia in the offspring of survivors, etc) causes unecessary collateral damage, even to those who have not yet been born. I am not entirely aware of the physics, but this could possibly cause problems for our allies in Israel due to proximity (As I remember Chernobyl did cause problems for some of the populations of Western Europe) A conventional military attack leaves no such problems behind.

Can you give me a better reason why we should not simply use conventional missiles and bombers? Or if you insist on being less conventional then that, firebombing?

Edited by Strangelove

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1. We do not need to use Nukes to achieve the military aims necessary to make Iran less of a none-threat.
Possibly a valid consideration, given equivalent conventional explosives, but by itself not a reason since it is based on an unproven assumption that all things being equal, one should not use nukes. I don't know of any reason to make that assumption.
2. Nukes carry an additional stigma with their use which would have unpredictable and possibly negative consequences for US leadership. Our ability to get our allies to follow us in venues such as those we have in NATO may be unecessarily decreased.
Continuing to tolerate this Islamofascist regime, or using conventional bombs to remove them, also carry an additional stigma (a different one) with unpredictable and possibly negative consequences. Since that doesn't distinguish choices, it's not a reason to do something or nothing.
3. Nuking Tehran would not end Islamic Fundementalism as a movement. (For that matter neither would simply destroying Tehran. Regime change in Tehran is necessary, but it is not the be-all-end-all of the problem.)
Okay, but why is that an argument against nuking Tehran?
4. We don't want to set the precedent that nuclear weapons are now an acceptable weapon to solve international disputes if we can afford not to. This is less about setting an examples to states like North Korea and more for states like Russia and China, who may feel that they now have the legitimacy to use nuclear weapons to solve their own internal problems (Like Chechneya, Taiwan, Tibet, etc.)
On the other hand, if the use of force is coupled with a clear, consistent and correct message about the use of force, no wrong message would be sent. It would be wrong to say "It is now our policy that disagreements can rightly be resolved by use of nukes". You've identified a clear desideratum in the use of nukes, not an argument against them.
5. The long term consequences of the use of nucelar weapons (fallout, radiation, leukemia in the offspring of survivors, etc) causes unecessary collateral damage, even to those who have not yet been born. I am not entirely aware of the physics, but this could possibly cause problems for our allies in Israel due to proximity (As I remember Chernobyl did cause problems for some of the populations of Western Europe) A conventional military attack leaves no such problems behind.
Is that our concern? A bullet to the brain has a long-term consequence; so is this just about the poor babies? Can't you use the "Think about the babies!" argument as an argument against any use of force?

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Is that our concern? A bullet to the brain has a long-term consequence; so is this just about the poor babies? Can't you use the "Think about the babies!" argument as an argument against any use of force?

Lets assume for the sake of argument, that I can end all the US's problems by destroying Tehran. I can do this either by a conventional attack, or by a nuclear one. Both would have the same short term result, and the nuclear one would have an additional long term one, it would hamper the development of many unborn people by causing leukemia and other birth defects for future generations. Is it really morally permissable to cause that kind of damage when it would not change the short term result? I can't think of why it could be.

Edited by Strangelove

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Is it really morally permissable to cause that kind of damage when it would not change the short term result? I can't think of why it could be.
If you make all of those assumptions, then no. The issue is whether you have god's cell phone number and can get his assurance of the promised outcome.

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Whenever people bitch about what the US did during WWII, it's always about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No one seems to blame us for firebombing the crap of of Tokyo, Dresden, and Hamburg. Dropping a nuke in this age of touchy-feely, love-your-enemy nonsense would completely alienate us from the rest of the world. Even traditionally strong allies like Britain and Australia would start to distance themselves from us. It would strengthen the impression already prevalent in much of the world that the US really is the new Nazi Germany. I know we're not supposed to care what the rest of the world thinks, but the fact of the matter is that no country, no matter how powerful, can do something that offensive to the rest of the world and expect not to suffer any negative consequences. With China on the road to being a superpower and the twilight of the United States starting to set in, pissing off the rest of the world by preemptively dropping a nuclear bomb is an exceedingly bad idea.

If it can be done effectively with conventional bombs, that is by far the most logical choice.

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With China on the road to being a superpower and the twilight of the United States starting to set in, pissing off the rest of the world by preemptively dropping a nuclear bomb is an exceedingly bad idea.

If it can be done effectively with conventional bombs, that is by far the most logical choice.

It's interesting that so far, only 1.5 halfway reasonable arguments have been established: bad PR, and conceivably unnecessary.

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Are you suggesting that they are bad arguments? The bad PR argument is, in my opinion, the only one needed. There was a time when Germany, wielding the most powerful military the world had seen up to that point, thought that it could defy the entire world. History proved otherwise. That's not meant as a moral equivocation between us and Nazi Germany, by the way. Just pointing out that pissing off the whole world didn't work for them and that it isn't likely to work for us.

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The bad PR argument is, in my opinion, the only one needed. There was a time when Germany, wielding the most powerful military the world had seen up to that point, thought that it could defy the entire world. History proved otherwise. That's not meant as a moral equivocation between us and Nazi Germany, by the way. Just pointing out that pissing off the whole world didn't work for them and that it isn't likely to work for us.
So you're suggesting, more specifically, that the reason why the free world engaged in a war with Nazi Germany was that they pissed everybody off, and it had nothing to do with the fact that they started an aggressive war and invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia, Greece and England. Oh yeah, and Russia. Let's see, who exactly was it that got pissed at the Nazis and decided to start shoting them? Well, there were the brave neutral countries like Sweden and Switzerland, or the occupied countries like Norway and France who couldn't exactly mount an attack against Germany with the Nazi jackboots on theor throats, and then there were about 3 anglophone countries who opted to boot the bastards. So it seems to me that your argument comes down to saying "don't irritate the English".

It has been clearly established, time and again, that The Whole World is a bunch of bureaucratic chickens, who are willing to allow huge-scale atrocities to take place while merely filing official protests at UN headquarters. I can't take the threat of global umbrage seriously.

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Yes, Germany committed a war of aggression. And the world perceives the United States as an aggressive, imperialist country. Nuking Iran would only cement that reputation even further. Whether or not it's true is irrelevant. What matters is that's how we'd be perceived. Are Britain and France going to go to war against us? Highly unlikely. But you'd better believe China and Russia will be considering it sometime in the next 50 years. When that time comes, we don't want our allies to turn their backs on us.

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You didn't list 5 reasons, or even 1. Point 1 is not a reason because there is no relationship between nuking Tehran and the conclusion -- all actions or inactions will create more hate in the Islamic world against the US.

Incorrect. A large-scale unprovoked attack on a civilian target with nukes is BOUND to cause additional anti-US sentiments in the Middle East. Currently while there is a lot of animosity against the US among arabs, certainly not all arabs are moved to action against the US. Terrorists are a small percentage of the Middle Eastern population. The best recruiting tool terrorist groups would have is a nuke attack. I am not saying that not nuking will eliminate anti-US feelings, just that nuking Iran is virtually guaranteed to increase them.

Point 2 is factually false: it would probably only cost us a few weak allies, and only for a short period.
I wouldn't be so sure. The US only has a few weak allies at the moment in the War on Terrorism. Britain is already vacilating on the issue, for instance, with her domestic population against aiding the US but the government still committed. A nuke attack on Iran would likely cost us help from nations like Britain, and we would be left with our only allies being those countries so dependant on the US that they cannot afford to lose us as an ally regardless of what we do. These countries are not exactly useful to us, however.

Point 3 is flamingly false, since a more likely reaction is an increase in anti-nuclear sentiment.

Yes and no. Anti-nuclear sentiment to the extent the rest of the world will hate the US for using nukes. But the opposite will be true of governments, who will see it as an example of unchecked US power and will seek ways to protect themselves. They will see that the US doesn't attack countries like North Korea, which have nukes, but will attack countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, who don't have nukes. Our enemies usually think their conventional forces are enough, we don't need to provoke a nuclear arms race among militarily weak nations hostile to the West.

Point 4 is humorously false: are you seriously suggesting that Britain or Russia will drop the bomb on us because we flattened Tehran?
No, but the institutional costs of using nukes will be reduced. If the world sees it as OK to use nukes in a non strictly self-defense situation, the result is certainly not good for the US. We don't need nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, or between North Korea and Japan.

Point 5 is orthographically and logically false: the word you were looking for is "sane", and that's a reason to do it, not a reason to not do it.

Point 5 is something many humans would call a "joke."

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But you'd better believe China and Russia will be considering it sometime in the next 50 years. When that time comes, we don't want our allies to turn their backs on us.
Okay, now I understand your argument. I'm skeptical about China: I think they are coming around, slowly, and they have an inscrutable plan to crush us economically, not militarily. But we presumably still have the capacity to launch a decisive strike against both of those countries were they to attack us. Unless you have evidence that we've disassembled our defensive capability.

Point 5 is something many humans would call a "joke."
As were 1-4, but I didn't want to add fuel to the fire.

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We have to [nuke Tehran] in self defence. 9/11 illustrates that.
What does nuking Tehran have to do with low-tech terrorism like 9/11?

There is no relationship between nuking Tehran and the conclusion -- all actions or inactions will create more hate in the Islamic world against the US.
I don't think Vladimir meant that someone will hate us more regardless of what we do. I think he meant that there are reasonable people in the Islamic World who will hate (i.e. be willing to act against) us if we nuke Tehran.

[Nuking Tehran]would probably only cost us a few weak allies, and only for a short period.
Isn't this factually false?

A more likely reaction [to nuking Tehran]is an increase in anti-nuclear sentiment.
After two countries that didn't possess nukes were attacked, are the bad guys more likely to have anti-nuclear sentiment?

[Nuking Tehran] might provoke nuclear retaliation.
Are you seriously suggesting that Britain or Russia will drop the bomb on us because we flattened Tehran?
Britain and Russia aren't the only ones that possess nukes...

[Nuking Tehran] is insane?
The word you were looking for is "sane", and that's a reason to do it.
It's insane because there's no reason (offered) to do it.

Coupled with a clear, consistent and correct message about the use of force, no wrong message would be sent.
What would this clear, consistent and correct message be that prevents a wrong message from being sent?

You discounted those reasons too fast, DavidOdden.

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1. It is faster and cheaper than conventionally carpet-bombing the city.

2. It's pretty hard to miss with a nuke.

3. Millions of people whose central purpose in life is to kill us: well, tables get turned.

4. The single most dangerous external threat to the West gets turned into a crater.

5. It's the right thing to do.

Or were we supposed to argue the other way around?

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A large-scale unprovoked attack on a civilian target with nukes is BOUND to cause additional anti-US sentiments in the Middle East.
Incorrect because irrelevant. Everything is bound to cause additional anti-US sentiment in the Muddle East. It is purely unreasonable to be bound by the sentiment of an uncivilized mob.
Currently while there is a lot of animosity against the US among arabs, certainly not all arabs are moved to action against the US. Terrorists are a small percentage of the Middle Eastern population. The best recruiting tool terrorist groups would have is a nuke attack. I am not saying that not nuking will eliminate anti-US feelings, just that nuking Iran is virtually guaranteed to increase them.
Well, if you think this is an Arab thing, then Iran is a great target since the number of Arabs in Iran is negligible. If you think it's a religious thing, then let's bear in mind that the majority Sunni cult would be rather happy to see that next of Shites wiped off the planet. I don't see any reason to think that anybody outside Iran would actually care if we sent a mushroom-shaped message.
Anti-nuclear sentiment to the extent the rest of the world will hate the US for using nukes. But the opposite will be true of governments, who will see it as an example of unchecked US power and will seek ways to protect themselves.
Anyhow, what I see emerging from this discussion is this. Nations must have the approval of The World Community to exist. Without a consensus from The World Community, civilized nations must allow themselves to be attacked in any and all ways that befall us. It is important that we never unilaterally act to defend ourselves, without first securing the permission of The World Community. Now it's true that this restriction only applies to the US, because it is a terrible world power -- Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, to give a few examples, do not have to live in a civilized rights-respecting manner. The penalty for violating this law requiring World Community pre-approval is to be scorned, and lord knows, we can't stand to be scorned -- that would destroy the fabric of our society.

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Anyhow, what I see emerging from this discussion is this. Nations must have the approval of The World Community to exist. Without a consensus from The World Community, civilized nations must allow themselves to be attacked in any and all ways that befall us. It is important that we never unilaterally act to defend ourselves, without first securing the permission of The World Community. Now it's true that this restriction only applies to the US, because it is a terrible world power -- Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, to give a few examples, do not have to live in a civilized rights-respecting manner. The penalty for violating this law requiring World Community pre-approval is to be scorned, and lord knows, we can't stand to be scorned -- that would destroy the fabric of our society.

This is a straw man. No one is suggesting that we need approval from the World Community before we act in self-defense. Lord knows Israel doesn't, and I fully support Israel's military actions. What we're saying is that nuking a country goes far beyond "disapproval from the world" and will take us to the level of "belligerence from the world." This country is on its downslope. We won't remain the world's only hyperpower for longer than another 30 years, if that. It is totally against our self-interest to have the rest of the world view us as the new Nazi Germany, because that will come back to haunt us in the very near future.

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Who is this Lord person, and how does he know? <grin>

I say internatinal opinion be damned, who needs it anyway? I agree that few other countries would be all that upset over the loss of Iran. I think they (esp. Britain and Israel) would be more upset about nuclear fallout wafting their way. I don't know enough about modern nuclear weaponry to say whether that's a relevant concern or not.

Then there's the double-standard question - are we creating one by nuking Iran but not Saudi Arabia or North Korea? Though I also think if we were to nuke Iran, SA and NK would become lesser threats and might start toeing the line.

Someone in my class the other day said to me that the world would be a much better place today without the invention of nuclear technology. What a horrible thought. I wonder what we'd be today without it: a shintoist theocracy or a crumbling communist state? Or perhaps some other unspeakable threat might have claimed a foothold?

-Q

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No one is suggesting that we need approval from the World Community before we act in self-defense.
That is exactly what a number of people are suggesting -- that the lack of World Community approval is a reason to not use nukes on Tehran. But let me just get you on the record here: are you now saying that World Opinion (positive opinion, of course) is not necessary for us to act in our own defense?

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The best way to bolster jihadi recruitment is to appease jihadist nations. Nuking Tehran would severely discredit the idea that God is on Iran's side (why would Allah let such a thing happen). The drawback of short-term recruitment spikes would be outweighed by the elimination of long-term support for terrorism and the Iraqi insurgency.

To say that nuking Tehran would lead more countries to acquire nukes is preposterous. I think it is more likely that nations looking to acquire nukes would follow the example of Libya. They would conclude that the era of the US turning the other cheek to its enemies' arms development is over. I can't imagine they would think it in their own best interest to see their own capitol destroyed.

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